Prehistoric defended settlement 500m north west of West Holme House


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1021113

Date first listed: 22-Dec-2003


Ordnance survey map of Prehistoric defended settlement 500m north west of West Holme House
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

District: County Durham (Unitary Authority)

Parish: Marwood

National Grid Reference: NZ 02451 19511


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

During the mid-prehistoric period (seventh to fifth centuries BC) a variety of different types of defensive settlements began to be constructed and occupied in the northern uplands of England. The most obvious sites were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a range of smaller sites, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha and defined as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others are found in less prominent positions. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction, some sites having a single bank and ditch (univallate), others having more than one (multivallate). At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Within the enclosure a number of stone or timber-built round houses were occupied by the inhabitants. Stock may also have been kept in these houses, especially during the cold winter months, or in enclosed yards outside them. The communities occupying these sites were probably single family groups, the defended settlements being used as farmsteads. Construction and use of this type of site extended over several centuries, possibly through to the early Romano-British period (mid to late first century AD). Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the later prehistoric settlement pattern of the northern uplands and are important for any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. All well-preserved examples are believed to be of national importance.

The prehistoric defended settlement 500m north west of West Holme House is a particularly well-preserved example of a late prehistoric defended settlement. It is one of a variety of sites of similar date which are scattered down the Tees Valley, which provide evidence for the variation in form and distribution of late prehistoric settlement, and form part of the wider prehistoric landscape in the North Pennines. The probable reuse of the enclosure in the early medieval period provides additional interest.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes a prehistoric defended settlement. It occupies the end of a steep-sided spur on the north bank of the Tees, 500m north west of West Holme House.

The settlement is enclosed by a ditch with internal and external banks. The banks are up to 7m wide and 0.3m high. Although the banks are similar in height and width the outer bank survives best at the south west side of the monument whereas the inner bank is most substantial on the north side. The ditch is up to 7m wide and 0.5m deep. There is a possible entrance on the north side. On the south east side the outer bank lies beneath the modern wall separating the wood from the field. The earthworks enclose an approximately circular area about 80m in diameter. The interior of the enclosure contains the remains of a rectangular building approximately 16m long and 8m wide, visible as a slight, sub-rectangular depression. This is thought to represent later occupation of the site in the early medieval period. East of the building a series of slight parallel gullies may represent ridge and furrow ploughing, or drainage.

An area of stony bumps and hollows overlooks the enclosure on its north side. It is not possible to interpret these on present evidence, so they do not form part of this scheduling.

The drystone walls and fence are excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath them is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 2 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 35955

Legacy System: RSM


Title: OS card NZ01NW 1 Source Date: 1954 Author: Publisher: Surveyor: Circular Earthwork

End of official listing